Sir Ian McKellen returns to Exeter after 50 years
One of the premier actors of his generation, Sir Ian McKellen, took time out during a special appearance in Exeter this week to meet five lucky teenagers who were given the opportunity to attend a sell-out event to mark the performer's eightieth year.
Sir Ian, whose career has spanned the classical repertory to the popular - from Greek drama to Coronation Street, returned to the Northcott for the first time since a production of Marlowe's Edward II in 1969.
Exeter solicitor Enduance Arthur donated five tickets she had bought to aspiring young actors Esther Kenig, 17, May Housego, 14, Natasha Pavey, 17, Bradley Swinbank, 16, and Noah Ricketts, 15. The gesture coincided with the launch of the Northcott's ‘pay it forward’ appeal to give away 1,000 free panto tickets to families who would not otherwise be able to go to the theatre by matching every £1 donated and providing one free ticket for each £7.50 paid for. Sir Ian personally collected more than £1,100 in bucket donations as the audience left the theatre – enough to pay for almost 150 panto tickets. Endurance hopes that her “pay it forward” act will inspire others to do something similar by calling call the Box Office on 01392 72 63 63 or visiting www.exeternorthcott.co.uk/christmas-giving
Noah Ricketts, 15, said it had been inspirational to see such a big name and amazing to get acting tips. “I really enjoyed the whole experience – seeing someone like Sir Ian gave a unique perspective and I felt I learned something just by watching him delivering lines. During the show, he talked about the element of luck in his career and how sometimes it is down to being in the right place at the right time as much as talent and experience.We all found it inspirational and were a little bit awestruck – it was incredibly exciting, like meeting someone from fantasy.””
Artistic and Executive Director Daniel Buckroyd thanked Endurance for the kindness and said the group had been given a masterclass in performing.“To hear all that in one evening along with brilliantly performed Shakespearian monologues, songs and poetry is a rare experience and something to be treasured by everyone who was there. It was an extremely thoughtful and generous act by Endurance, and one that these young people will never forget.”